The Rape-Murder Of Minor Girl In UP’s Kheri Is Horrific, But It’s Not A ‘Crime Against Dalits’ As Claimed By Bhim Army Chief And Some Journalists

by Swati Goel Sharma - Aug 17, 2020 01:47 PM +05:30 IST
The Rape-Murder Of Minor Girl In UP’s Kheri Is Horrific, But It’s Not A ‘Crime Against Dalits’ As Claimed By Bhim Army Chief And Some JournalistsKidnapping of a minor girl and the police apathy.
  • Of the two men arrested for the crime, one is himself a Dalit while the other is from a backward caste.

In a chilling incident from Uttar Pradesh, a 13-year-old girl has been raped and killed by two fellow villagers.

What is clearly a case of a gruesome crime on a minor girl child, however, is being falsely painted as a case of 'caste oppression' by a section of politicians and journalists.

The incorrect portrayal, unfortunately, is taking the focus away from the brutality of the gender crime while triggering an ugly political slug-fest, not to forget the misinformation being spread on social media.

The incident took place on 14 August in Pakariya village of UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri district, which is around 120 kilometres from state capital Lucknow.

The girl, who was from a Dalit caste, went missing in the afternoon that day. As per her family, she had gone to a field to relieve herself. Her body was found on the same day in a field, owned by one of the two accused.

As per a police statement, the autopsy of the girl has revealed that she was raped and later strangled to death.

Initially, the case was reported sensationally by the media as a case of 'mutilation' as the girl’s father reportedly said that her eyes had been gouged out and tongue had been cut.

The police, however, denied the allegations of mutilation later, citing autopsy report.

The two arrested are named Santosh Yadav and Sanjay Gautam.

Both belong to the same village. A first information report (FIR) has been filed against them at Isanagar police station for murder (number 396/2020).

After autopsy, a rape charge has been added and POCSO Act has also been invoked. Yadav has been additionally booked under SC/ST Atrocity Act.

Police told the media that they would also invoke National Security Act against the two.

Yadav belongs to a backward caste, while Gautam is a Dalit.

Evidently, the crime, horrific it is, is not a case of Dalit oppression — that is, the victim has not been targeted for her Dalit identity.

Among those who have falsely given the case a caste colour include Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and journalist Saba Naqvi.

Both have described the case as a crime “against Dalits” on social media.

Azad, who recently floated his own Dalit political party, has around 2 lakh followers on Twitter while Naqvi has nearly 4.5 lakh.

Hundreds of other handles have picked up the Dalit oppression angle from their tweets and are further amplifying the false claim.

Several publications have mentioned the girl’s Dalit identity in the headline and that too, is adding fuel to the propaganda:

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati also picked on the Dalit bit:

Both Azad and Naqvi have been found sharing misinformation on social media on various occasions.

As this correspondent has reported, Azad recently had an FIR filed against him for making derogatory, abusive tweets on a woman Twitter user.

The ‘Dalit politician’ is also being criticised on social media for not coming out in support of a Dalit man in Bengaluru who is facing death threats for making a derogatory Facebook post on Prophet Mohammed.

Naveen has been arrested for the post, but several from the Muslim community have been demanding his head be chopped, in a chilling reminder of the Kamlesh Tiwari case.

Even the claim that the girl’s eyes were gouged out and tongue slit, which has been refuted by the police on the basis of the post-mortem report, continues to be shared by some publications and influential Twitter users:

The Rape-Murder Of Minor Girl In UP’s Kheri Is Horrific, But It’s Not A ‘Crime Against Dalits’ As Claimed By Bhim Army Chief And Some Journalists

The Indian Express has falsely reported that the claim of eyes being gouged and tongue slit has been made by the police, as is evident from their headline - ‘Girl raped, killed in UP village; eyes gouged out, tongue slit: cops’.

The Express report, on the contrary, credits this information not to the police but “sources”.

The Rape-Murder Of Minor Girl In UP’s Kheri Is Horrific, But It’s Not A ‘Crime Against Dalits’ As Claimed By Bhim Army Chief And Some Journalists

Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.

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